Tag: Western Europe

Should a liberal-democratic government protect the ‘social rights’ of its citizens?

It is self-evidently true that a liberal-democratic government should protect the ‘social rights’ of its citizens. There are copious arguments from various eminent thinkers that back up this claim. Ranging across eras and philosophical schools, various intellectuals have endorsed the protection of social rights of citizens. This essay will draw upon the ideas of philosopher Socrates (through his disciple Plato), American founding father James Madison, and 20th century political scientist T.H. Marshall. In doing so, the essay will back the position that a liberal-democratic government should protect the ‘social-rights’ of its citizens.

Social rights can be loosely defined as those rights which are operant in public places. While this is not a legal definition of the term, it serves as a guideline for the essay. In a nation with diverse racial, ethnic and religious demography as the United States, it is expected that the laws reflect secularism and social equity. These . . . Read More

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International Standards on Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press is an essential aspect of functioning democracies.  Be it an institution or an individual, the liberty to express openly is the most important of attributes.  The press, in particular, being the Fourth Estate of a democratic society, is expected to be bold and articulate.  But ground realities differ from ideal conceptions of the function of the press.  In the real world, an array of external factors coaxes or coerces the press into acting against democratic principles. These include advertisers, political parties, businesses and even special interest citizen groups.  In this backdrop, it is interesting to analyze the state of freedom of press in the world today. It is an interesting exercise to find out which countries are exemplary and which are at a nadir. After all, freedom of press has an immediate bearing on the lives and prospects of citizens. It is not an abstract idea whose relevance is confined merely to the academia.

The Freedom House . . . Read More

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Against Marx and Engels’ criticism of private ownership

One of the cornerstones of Marxist economic theory is the abolition of private property and in its stead have common communal rights.  This is a noble and idealistic idea but one suffering from lack of applicability.  It has been proven true on many occasions that people are motivated to work hard when they are offered material incentives.  The possibility and potential to own a house or a car or a jewel is what motivates most of us to work.  Such being human psychology, it is futile to think of idealistic conceptions espoused by Marx and Engels.  A cursory look at the state of commons underscores the ineffectiveness of this mode of ownership.  For example, our environment is degrading at a rapid pace.  The quality water in the oceans and rivers, the pollution levels in the air we breathe and the steady destruction of erstwhile pristine ecosystems can all be attributed to lack of private ownership.  If only all these resources were privately owned, it is difficult to foresee . . . Read More

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‘Two Lives of Charlemagne’ and our understanding of medieval kingship

Charlemagne, translated into English as Charles the Great, was the King of the Franks, who expanded his empire to as further south as Italy. We learn from the two biographies that Charlemagne was instrumental in the spread of culture and arts to all corners of his kingdom. By closely associating himself with the Papacy, he helped spread the Christian message to much of Europe. As a result of his contributions in various fields, his reign was properly called the Carolingian Renaissance. The reader will be able to get a summation of his lifetime achievements as well as a sense of plebeian life in medieval Europe by reading through the two biographies in discussion.

The book Two Lives of Charlemagne contains two different biographies of Charlemagne, who ruled a large swathe of western Europe during the 8th and 9th century AD. The first version is titled ‘Life of Charles’ (original name Vita Caroli) and is written by Einhard. The second version is titled ‘Of . . . Read More

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Socrates and the notion of an examined life

According to Socrates, a commitment to moral reasoning is an essential condition of a well-lived life.  An individual should base his actions upon the outcomes of such internal dialogues.  The exercise of self-examination and introspection as a way of arriving at moral truths is of paramount importance to Socrates.  So much so that he unequivocally declared that “an unexamined life is not worth living”.  This commitment to truth by way of rational, critical enquiry would eventually cost Socrates his life.  But, even when in sight of his impending death, Socrates calmly reasoned with his friends and supporters that accepting the judgment of the state is to follow the moral course of action and he refused to escape into exile.

Socrates was brought to trial by the democratic Athenian jury, which had scores to settle with prominent members of the previous regime.  Socrates’ association with the previous regime made him a target of persecution, irrespective of the . . . Read More

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